the Thoreau Log.
1846
Æt. 29.
Early January 1846. Walden Pond.

As I was desirous to recover the long lost bottom of Walden Pond, I surveyed it carefully, before the ice broke up, early in ’46, with the compass and chain and sounding line . . . The greatest depth was exactly one hundred and two feet; to which may be added the five feet which it has risen since, making one hundred and seven. (Walden, 315-6)

Thoreau's survey of Walden Pond, 1846
Thoreau’s survey of Walden Pond, 1846, as published in Walden; or, Life in the Woods (Boston: Ticknor & Fields, 1854)
20 January 1846. Concord, Mass.

Prudence Ward writes:

  Henry T has built him a house of one room a little distance from Walden pond & in view of the public road. There he lives—cooks, eats, studies & sleeps & is quite happy. He has many visitors, whom he receives with pleasure & does his best to entertain. We talk of passing the day with him soon.

(Thoreau, 216)
4 February 1846. Concord, Mass.

Thoreau lectures on “The Writings and Style of Thomas Carlyle” at the Unitarian Church for the Concord Lyceum (Studies in the American Renaissance 1995, 147-8), later published as “Thomas Carlyle and His Works“.

17 February 1846. New York, N.Y.

Charles Lane writes to Thoreau:

Dear Friend

  The books you were so kind as to deposite about two years and a half ago with Messers Wiley and Putnam have all been sold, but as they were left in your name it is needful in strict business that you should send an order to them to pay to me the amount due. I will therefore thank you to enclose me such an order at your earliest convenience in a letter addressed to your admiring friend,

Charles Lane

Post Office New York City

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 168)
13 March 1846. Walden Pond.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  The song sparrow and blackbird heard to-day. The snow going off. The ice in the pond one foot thick. (Journal, 1:487-8).

25 March 1846. Walden Pond.

In 1845 Walden was first completely open on the 1st of April; in ‘46, the 25th of March . . . (Walden, 334).

27 March 1846. Walden Pond.

Thoreau writes in his journal:

  This morning I saw the geese from the door through the mist sailing about in the middle of the pond, but when I went to the shore they rose and circled round like ducks over my head, so that I counted them,—twenty-nine. I after saw thirteen ducks. (Journal, 1:402).

30 March 1846. Boonton, N.J.

Charles Lane writes to Thoreau in reply to his letter of 26 February:

N.J.

Dear Friend,—

  If the human nature participates of the elemental I am no longer in danger of becoming suburban, or super-urban, that is to say, too urbane. I am now more likely to be converted into a petrifaction, for slabs of rock and foaming waters never so abounded in my neighborhood. A very peter I shall become: on this rock He has built his church. You would find much joy in these eminences and in the views therefrom.

  My pen has been necessarily unproductive in the continued motion of the sphere in which I have lately been moved. You, I suppose, have not passed the winter to the world’s unprofit.

  You never have seen, as I have, the book with a preface of 450 pages and a text of 60. My letter is like unto it.

  I have only to add that your letter of the 26th February did its work, and that I submit to you cordial thanks for the same.

Yours truly,
Chas. Lane.

I hope to hear occasionally of your doings and those of your compeers in your classic ploughings and diggings.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 168-9)

Spring 1846. Walden Pond.

Thoreau expands the first draft of A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers with passages from his journal, lectures, and essays “Sir Walter Raleigh” and “The Service,” and combines two “Thursday” chapters (Revising Mythologies, 254).

16 April 1846. Concord, Mass.

Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

  I went to pass the evening with a circle of my friends at Miss [Elizabeth Sherman] Hoar’s. The Conversation ran mostly on the significance of Christ as the genius of modern culture. Elizabeth Hoar agreed with me in declaring the friendly influence he was, standing in this particular in a more tender and intimate nearness to the heart of mankind than any character in life or literature. The Conversation was suggested by my asking Miss H. who were the teachers of the Nations at this time; and she mentioned Jesus, with Goethe, Carlyle, and Emerson.

  Henry Thorough [sic] thought we asserted this claim for the fair Hebrew in exaggeration; and declared against our estimate with some vehemence. I asserted his claim as a poet—the poet of the moral instinct—yet as the mythological personage now to Christendom, who had no clear perception of his ideas and actions. 

(The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 175-6)
6 May 1846. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson pays Thoreau $5 for building a fence on his schoolhouse lot (Ralph Waldo Emerson’s account books. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).

8 May 1846. Concord, Mass.

Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

  Evening. Emerson came in to consult me on lodge he intends building on the peak of his woodlot, near Walden Water. He showed me H. Thoreau’s design, to which I added another story, as a lookout . . . Emerson, Miss Fuller, Thoreau, and myself, are the only persons who treat things in the new spirit, each working distinct veins of the same mine of Being.

(The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 179-80)

12 May 1846. Concord, Mass.

Bronson Alcott writes in his journal that he walks to Walden Pond and spends a few moments with Thoreau (Amos Bronson Alcott papers. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).

16 May 1846. Concord, Mass.

Bronson Alcott writes in his journal that he holds an evening conversation about nature at Lucy Jackson Brown’s house with Ralph Waldo Emerson and Thoreau in attendance (Amos Bronson Alcott papers. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).

22 May 1846. Concord, Mass.

Bronson Alcott writes in his journal that Thoreau will survey Hilltop (Amos Bronson Alcott papers. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).

June 1846.

Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Mosses from an Old Manse is published:

There is a wilder interest in the tract of land—perhaps a hundred yards in breadth—which extends between the battle-field and the northern face of our old Manse, with its contiguous avenue and orchard. Here, in some unknown age, before the white man came, stood an Indian village, convenient to the river, whence its inhabitants must have drawn so large a part of their substance. The site is identified by the spear and arrow-heads, the chisels, and other implements of war, labor, and the chase, which the plough turns up from the soil. You see a splinter of stone, half hidden beneath a sod; it looks like nothing worthy of note; but, if you have faith enough to pick it up—behold a relic! Thoreau, who has a strange faculty of finding what the Indians have left behind them, first set me on the search ; and I afterwards enriched myself with some very perfect specimens, so rudely wrought that it seemed almost as if chance had fashioned them. (Mosses from an Old Manse, 1:8).The pond-lily grows abundantly along the margin; that delicious flower which, as Thoreau tells me, opens its virgin bosom to the first sunlight, and perfects its being through the magic of that genial kiss. He has beheld beds of them unfolding in due succession, as the sunrise stole gradually from flower to flower; a sight not to be hoped for, unless when a poet adjusts his inward eye to a proper focus with the outward organ.

(Mosses from an Old Manse, 1:20).
BROOKS_067_Old Manse_Hosmer 1880_copy
The Old Manse (The Paul Brooks Collection)

 

After 27 June 1846. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes in his journal:

  H.D.T. seems to think that society suffers for want of war, or some good excitant. But how partial that is! the masses suffer for want of work as barbarous as they are. What is the difference? Now the tiger has got a joint of fresh meat to tear & eat: Before, he had only bones to grind & gnaw. But this concerns only the tigers, & leaves the men where they were . . .  Society is a curiosity shop full of odd excellences, a Bramin, a Fakeer, a giraffe, an alligator, Col Bowie, Alvah Crocker, Bronson Alcott, Henry Thoreau, Caroline Sturgis; a world that cannot keep step, admirable melodies, but no chorus, for there is no accord. 

(The Journals and Miscellaneous Notebooks of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 9:434)
30 June 1846. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson pays Thoreau $9.35 for fence work and painting (Ralph Waldo Emerson’s account books. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).

July 1846. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson presses Thoreau to publish A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers; Thoreau prepares further additions to second draft (Revising Mythologies, 254).

12 July 1846. Concord, Mass.

Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

  Thoreau’s book—We walked to Thoreau who read me passages from his Concord and Merrimack Rivers, a pastoral book ready for the press

(Amos Bronson Alcott papers. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).

18 July 1846. Concord, Mass.

Bronson Alcott writes in his journal that Thoreau has supper with him and talks interestingly (Amos Bronson Alcott papers. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).

23 or 24 July 1846. Concord, Mass.

Samuel Staples, the village jailer, jails Thoreau for refusing to pay his poll tax after several warnings. Thoreau will not pay because he feels that the tax supports slavery. Thoreau spends the night in jail although someone, probably his Aunt Maria, paid his taxes

(Thoreau’s Incarceration, 99-100).
  I have paid no poll-tax for six years. I was put into a jail once on this account, for one night; and, as I stood considering the walls of solid stone, two or three feet thick, the door of wood and iron, a foot thick, and the iron grating which strained the light, I could not help being struck with the foolishness of that institution which treated me as if I were mere flesh and blood and bones, to be locked up. I wondered that it should have concluded at length that this was the best use it could put me to, and had never thought to avail itself of my services in some way. I saw that, if there was a wall of stone between me and my townsmen, there was a still more difficult one to climb or break through, before they could get to be as free as I was. I did not for a moment feel confined, and the walls seemed a great waste of stone and mortar. I felt as if I alone of all my townsmen had paid my tax. They plainly did not know how to treat me, but behaved like persons who are underbred. In every threat and in every compliment there was a blunder; for they thought that my chief desire was to stand the other side of that stone wall. I could not but smile to see how industriously they locked the door on my meditations, which followed them out again without let or hinderance, and they were really all that was dangerous. As they could not reach me, they had resolved to punish my body; just as boys, if they cannot come at some person against whom they have a spite, will abuse his dog. I saw that the State was halfwitted, that it was timid as a lone woman with her silver spoons, and that it did not know its friends from its foes, and I lost all my remaining respect for it, and pitied it.

(“Resistance to Civil Government“)
26 July 1846. Concord, Mass.

Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

  Thoreau spent an hour or two, conversing mostly on his late imprisonment in jail (The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 184).

1 August 1846. Concord, Mass.

The annual meeting of the Concord Women’s Anti-Slavery Society is held on the doorstep of Thoreau’s Walden Pond house to commemorate the 2nd anniversary of the freeing of slaves in the West Indies.

2 August 1846. Concord, Mass.

Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

  E[merson] and I walked to Walden Water after hearing some more of his poems. Stopped a moment at Thoreaus

(Amos Bronson Alcott papers. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).

16 August 1846. New York, N.Y.

Horace Greeley writes to Thoreau:

My dear Thoreau,

  Believe me when I say that I mean to do the errand you have asked of me, and that soon. But I am not sanguine of success, and have hardly a hope that it will be immediate if ever. I hardly know a soul that could publish your article all at once, and ‘To be continued’ are words shunned like a pestilence. But I know you have written a good thing about [Thomas] Carlyle—too solidly good, I fear, to be profitable to yourself or attractive to publishers. Didst thou ever, O my friend! ponder on the significance and cogency of the assurance, “Ye cannot serve God and Mammon,” as applicable to Literature—applicable, indeed, to all things whatsoever. God grant us grace to endeavor to serve Him rather than Mammon—that ought to suffice us. In my poor judgment, if any thing is calculated to make a scoundrel of an honest man, writing to sell is that very particular thing.

Yours, heartily,
Horace Greeley.

Remind Ralph Waldo Emerson and wife of my existence and grateful remembrance.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 169-70)

26 August 1846. New York, N.Y.

Horace Greeley writes to George Rex Graham:

Dear Sir:

  I send you herewith an account of the Life, Character, Genius and Works of Thomas Carlyle, by one of the only two men in America capable of giving it. The very best man to do this is, of course, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and this is by the second-best, Mr. Emerson’s pupil, friend and daily companion, Henry D. Thoreau, whose essays and translations of some of the grand Greek Tragedies in The Dial made a deserved sensation. Thoreau is a young man, a scholar, poor of course, and sends this to me to get utterance and bread. I know it is unlike the general staple of your Magazine, but I think it will on that account be relished and give a zest to the work. That it is a brilliant as well as vigorous essay, and gives a Daguerreotype of Carlyle and Carlylism which no man living but Emerson could excel, I believe any scholar would say, and I am confident it would attract many new readers to the Magazine. It would make about a sheet or sixteen pages of the Mag. and would probably have to be divided—I hope but once. If you choose to publish it, and pay as much as you pay others for right good prose ( where you are not buying a name ) I will make it sell a pile of Magazines, anyhow.

  I offer it first to you, and ask you to let me have your decision upon it as soon as practicable. Keep the MS. till I send for it, as I may think best to offer it to Godey if you don’t want it.

Yours,
Horace Greeley

(Passages from the Correspondence and Other Papers of Rufus W. Griswold, 206-7)
31 August 1846.

Thoreau begins his journey to Maine and writes:

Concord in Massachusetts for Bangor and the backwoods of Maine, by way of the railroad and steamboat, intending to accompany a relative of mine, engaged in the lumber trade in Bangor, as far as a dam on the West Branch of the Penobscot, in which property he was interested

(The Maine Woods, 3).

1 September 1846. Maine.

Thoreau writes:

The next forenoon, Tuesday, September 1, I started with my companion in a buggy from Bangor for ‘up river,’ expecting to be overtaken the next day night at Mattawamkeag Point, some sixty miles off, by two more Bangoreans, who had decided to join us in a trip to the mountain. We had each a knapsack or bag filled with such clothing and articles as were indispensable, and my companion carried his gun . . .

(The Maine Woods, 4-9).

2 September 1846. Maine.

Thoreau writes:

  The next morning we drove along through a high and hilly country, in view of Cold-Stream Pond, a beautiful lake four or five miles long, and came into the Houlton road again, here called the military road, at Lincoln, forty-five miles from Bangor, where there is quite a village for this country,— the principal one above Oldtown . . .

(The Maine Woods, 9-17)

3 September 1846. Maine.

Thoreau writes:

Early the next morning we had mounted our packs, and prepared for a tramp up the West Branch, my companion having turned his horse out to pasture for a week or ten days, thinking that a bite of fresh grass and a taste of running water would do him as much good as backwoods fare and new country influences his master. Leaping over a fence, we began to follow an obscure trail up the northern bank of the Penobscot . . .

(The Maine Woods, 17-25).

4 September 1846. Maine.

Thoreau writes:

  In the night we were entertained by the sound of rain-drops on the cedar splints which covered the roof, and awaked the next morning with a drop or two in our eyes. It had set in for a storm, and we made up our minds not to forsake such comfortable quarters with this prospect, but wait for Indians and fair weather. It rained and drizzled and gleamed by turns, the livelong day . . .

(The Maine Woods, 25-8).

5 September 1846. Maine.

Thoreau writes:

  The next morning, the weather proving fair enough for our purpose, we prepared to start, and, the Indians having failed us, persuaded McCauslin, who was not unwilling to revisit the scenes of his driving, to accompany us in their stead, intending to engage one other boatman on the way . . .

(The Maine Woods, 28-45).

6 September 1846. Maine.

Thoreau writes:

  We had soon launched and loaded our boat, and, leaving our fire blazing, were off again before breakfast . . .

(The Maine Woods, 45-61)

7 September 1846. Mt. Katahdin, Maine.

Thoreau writes:

  By six o’clock, having mounted our packs and a good blanketful of trout, ready dressed, and hung up such baggage and provision as we wished to leave behind upon the tops of saplings, to be out of the reach of bears, we started for the summit of the mountain, distant, as Uncle George said the boatmen called it, about four miles, but as I judged, and as it proved, nearer fourteen . . .

(The Maine Woods, 61-9).

8 September 1846. Mt. Katahdin, Maine.

Thoreau writes:

  In the morning, after whetting our appetite on some raw pork, a wafer of hard-bread, and a dipper of condensed cloud or waterspout, we all together began to make our way up the falls . . .

(The Maine Woods, 69-84).

9 September 1846. Mt. Katahdin, Maine.

Thoreau writes:

  In the morning we carried our boat over and launched it, making haste lest the wind should rise… We made a hasty breakfast at the head of Ambejijis Lake on the remainder of our pork, and were soon rowing across its smooth surface again, under a pleasant sky, the mountain being now clear of clouds in the northeast . . .

(The Maine Woods, 84-8).

15 September 1846. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to his wife, Lidian Emerson:

  It is still doubtful if the Clarkes come but I shall add the barn room if they do & Thoreau is to build it & I am sorry you are not here to instruct . . . Henry T. has returned safe from Katahdin, after the finest adventures in batteaus, lakes, & mountains

(The Letters of Ralph Waldo Emerson, 3:348).

18 September 1846. Concord, Mass.

Bronson Alcott writes in his journal:

  Henry Thoreau came to see me. He was pleased with my summer-house and I took him to the hill top and showed him the site of my proposed “Lookout.” He climbed a tree and measured the wide horizon with his eye. An ascent of 20 feet will give a wide prospect.

(The Journals of Bronson Alcott, 185)
30 September 1846. New York, N.Y.

Horace Greeley writes to Thoreau:

  I learned to-day, through Mr. [Rufus Wilmot] Griswold, former editor of ‘Graham’s Magazine,’ that your lecture is accepted, to appear in that magazine. Of course it is to be paid for at the usual rate, as I expressly so stated when I inclosed it to [George Rex] Graham. He has not written me a word on the subject, which induces me to think he may have written you. Please write me if you would have me speak further on the subject. The pay, however, is sure, though the amount may not be large, and I think you may wait until the article appears, before making further stipulations on the subject.

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 170)

Concord, Mass. Ralph Waldo Emerson advances Thoreau $15 (Ralph Waldo Emerson’s account books. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).

Late September 1846. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson writes to Thoreau:

  Will Mr Thoreau please bear in mind that when there is good mortar in readiness, Mr [James] Dean must be summoned to fit the air-tight stove to the chimney in the schoolroom; unless Mr T. can do it with convenience himself

(The Correspondence (2013, Princeton), 1:282).

1 October 1846. Concord, Mass.

Bronson Alcott writes in his journal about a typical October day:

  Meet Emerson in his study or walk to Walden. Discourse at this time on Occupations.—Call sometimes at Thoreau’s wigwam at Walden

(Amos Bronson Alcott papers. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).

14 October 1846. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson gives Thoreau 25 cents for a horse and cart (Ralph Waldo Emerson’s account books. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).

26 October 1846. New York, N.Y.

Horace Greeley writes to Thoreau:

My Friend Thoreau,—

  I know you think it odd that you have not heard further, and, perhaps blame my negligence or engrossing cares, but, if so, without good reason. I have to-day received a letter from Griswold, in Philadelphia, who says: “The article by Thoreau on Carlyle is in type, and will be paid for liberally.” “Liberally” is quoted as an expression of Graham’s. I know well the difference between a publisher’s and an author’s idea of what is “liberally”; but I give you the best I can get as the result of three letters to Philadelphia on this subject.

  Success to you, my friend! Remind Mr. and Mrs. Emerson of my existence, and my lively remembrance of their various kindnesses.

Yours, very busy in our political contest,
Horace Greeley

(The Correspondence of Henry David Thoreau, 171)
Mid-Fall 1846. Walden Pond.

Thoreau expands the Saddleback episode in A Week on the Concord and Merrimack Rivers (Revising Mythologies, 254).

18 December 1846. Concord, Mass.

Ralph Waldo Emerson pays Thoreau $5 for work (Ralph Waldo Emerson’s account books. Houghton Library, Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass.).




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